Last season Bridgeport was a team at the crossroads. The team had made the playoffs for two straight years under Jack Capuano but had done it with a bunch of guys jealous of Jon Sim's NHL career at forward. In Cappy's second season (and first playoff appearance) the teams leading scorers were Mike Iggulden, Trevor Smith, Kurtis McLean, Ben Walter and Jesse Joensuu. The Tigers suffered from the Islanders thin prospect pool just as much as the pro team. Last years team was a mash of youngsters getting their last chance and perennial AHL players.
Injuries of course didn't help and in all the team had 60 different players dress for a game. Most notable of these were Joel Martin, who most Islander fans would have never put on the depth chart to begin the season unless they were being charitable. The journeyman (ECHL, IHL, CHL) goalie played 18 games for Bridgeport, beating his previous career high of 3 AHL games in 06-07 (coincidentally the last time he was in the AHL). Although the less said of Riley Gill, who filled in for Martin for 2 games while he was in the NHL, the better.
The team is largely in a youth movement, as only Trevor Fischmon is 30 or over and the other elders of the team are Dylan Reese, Tim Wallace (both 27) and Jeremy Colliton (26). No place is this more evident then the defense, as last seasons starting 6 were Dylan Reese, Travis Hamonic, Mark Wotton, Dustin Kohn, Mark Katic and Anton Klementyev.
Only Reese and Klementyev were around for opening night this year (although Katic is hurt) and they were joined by youngsters Aaron Ness, Matt Donovan, Calvin De Haan and returning pickups Ty Wishart and Benn Olson.
It's not surprising then to find BP at 2-2 to open the season, averaging 3.5 goals for a game while giving up 4 goals against. While much of the BP defense is the future, there's a reason they are in the AHL right now and it's going to take them time.
Sat Oct 8th Vs Portland (Phoenix) 4-2 Loss
BP Outshot Portland 39-33, but they also went 0/6 on the PP. Kevin Poulin got the start and had 29 saves on 33 shots. Thomas Marcinko evened the score with a goal [Video] in the first, assisted by Frischmon and Micheal Haley. Ness got the Islanders within 3-2 for a short time in the 3rd, with assists by Brett Gallant and Chris Langkow. Beaudoin put the game out of reach with a goal two minutes later for the final score. Of note is that Wishart led the team in shots with 6, but was the only -2 player on the night.
Sun Oct 9th Vs Albany (New Jersey) 4-2 Win
Nice bounce back win for BP, but this game was all about Justin DiBenedetto and Casey Cizikas. DiBo got the natural hat trick [Video] (and every goal on the night but the empty netter) and Cizikas was his partner in crime notching the lone assist on each goal. Anders Nilsson made his North American debut with 28 saves on 30 shots and one of the goals being off a penalty shot. BP was held to 22 shots, went 0/3 on the PP but held Albany to 0/5 on the PK.
Fri Oct 14th Vs Adirondack (Philly) 6-3 Loss
For those who followed this last year, you'll remember that Nilsson struggled at the beginning of the season in the SEL rotating great games with poor showings. On this night he had 21 saves on 26 shots. BP finally converted on the PP for the first time, but still went 2/7 while going 3/6 on the PK. The DiBo-Cizikas combo clicked again for a PP goal (with Backman getting the third assist). Langkow from Marcinko and Tony Romano and Jeremy Colliton from Ness and Reese were the other scorers. Wishart again was a -2 on the night, although he was joined by Donovan on this night.
Sat Oct 15th Vs Connecticut (Short Island) 5-4 SO Win
For those who might be sneaking a peek at Kevin Poulin's stats after two starts and being a bit worried, don't. For this game he faced 45 shots, including a 22 shot second period in which he only gave up 1 goal. CT opened up the scoring with the first two goals, and then BP stormed back with 3 straight goals. Ullstrom from Reese and Colliton, DiBo from Wishart and Ullstrom and Marcinko from Langkow were your goal scorers making it 3-2. CT came back behind Carl Hagelin who finished his hat trick with a 3rd period shortie making it 4-3. Gallant tied it two minutes later with assists to Wishart and Marcinko. BP won the shootout with scores by Backman, Tyler McNeely and Marcinko and oddly enough had Aaron Ness give it a try.
Alright, I didn't realize that JRs already have 8 or 9 games played. Instead of going through each individual game I'm going to round up most of their stats.
Ryan Strome returned to Niagara and had a hat trick on his first night back. Since then he's played two more games, getting an assist and a goal. In 3 games he has 4 G, 1 A for 5 points. He's right behind teammate Mitchell Theoret who in 9 games has 2 G, 4 A for 6 points in 9 games. Strome is already 7th on the team in points.
In 7 games Andrey Pedan has 2 goals and 1 assist and is even in +/-.
John or Johan Persson (I have Johan, WHL has John?) has 3 goals and 5 assists for 8 points in 8 games and a -4. He leads the Red Deer Rebels in points.
Brenden Kichton has 1 goal and 5 assists for 6 points in 8 games, but is worst on the Spokane Chiefs with a -4. Of note is that only one other player on the team is worse then -1.
The Natural Born Kirills
Kirill Petrov has 6 goals, 3 assists for 9 points in 13 games for Ak-Bars to lead the team in points. He is just barely out of the top 5 in the KHL in goals.
Kirill Kabanov and offseason drama? I'm shocked. After accepting a one month tryout for an SEL team, he was finally traded from his QMJHL who were over the limit on foreign born players.
Anders Lee started his season quiet, racking up 2 goals and an assist opening weekend in a split with Minnesota-Duluth. This weekend against Ohio State Lee helped power them to a 5-2 rout with 2 goals and an assist and helped lead a 3rd period rally that fell short in a 4-3 loss with a goal and an assist. On the year he has 5 goals and 3 assists in 4 games. Robbie Russo has 2 assists in 4 games for Notre Dame.
Brock Nelson continued his break out from the end of last season, scoring 2 goals in the 3rd period against Air Force to lead UND to a 4-3 win. Boston College defeated UND 6-2 the following night and Nelson was held scoreless. UND defeated Maine twice this weekend, but Brock only notched an assist. In 4 games he has 2 goals and 2 assists.
In games against Boston U and Boston College this weekend, Scott Mayfield had 1 assist and was a +2 over the weekend for Denver.
Corey Trivino has 3 goals in 4 games for the inconsistent Boston U. #7 BU has beaten both ranked teams they have played, but has lost games to both unranked teams they have played.
Jason Clark hasn't played yet for Wisconsin.
Cody Rosen has not played a game for Clarkson. Even more worrying? Senior Paul Karpowich has been absolutely outstanding to begin his Senior season.
Johan Sundstrom has 1 assist in 13 games for Frolunda
Jesse Joensuu has 5 goals and 5 assists for 10 points in 11 games. Joensuu is tied for 3rd in goals in the SEL. Interestingly he's playing with former Islander prospect Jason Krog.